Suspect in slaying of British lawmaker tells court his name is ‘Death to traitors, freedom for Britain’

A police van believed to be carrying Jo Cox slaying suspect Thomas Mair arrives at Westminster Magistrates' Court in London on June 18.
(Dan Kitwood / Getty Images)

The man accused of killing British lawmaker Jo Cox defiantly refused to give his name in court Saturday, instead identifying himself as “Death to traitors, freedom for Britain.”

Thomas Mair, 52, also would not confirm his address or date of birth during a hearing at Westminster Magistrates’ Court in central London.

The only sentence he uttered was: “My name is ‘Death to traitors, freedom for Britain.’ ”

Mair has been charged with murder, grievous bodily harm, firearm possession with intent to commit a crime and other weapons charges.


He is accused of killing Cox, 41, as she exited her car and headed toward a public library to meet constituents Thursday in her home district of Birstall, a small market town outside the northern city of Leeds.

Wearing a gray tracksuit, he looked alert and stoic as he sat in the dock flanked by two security guards.

Prosecutor David Cawthorne told the court that Cox had spent that morning at a local school and care home before heading to Birstall Library for a pre-arranged meeting with local constituents.

Mair approached Cox and immediately started to stab her repeatedly with a large knife, causing her to fall to the ground, the prosecutor said.

He said Mair then removed a gun from a black bag and shot her three times as she lay on the ground. Mair continued to stab Cox and was heard to say: “Britain first. Keep Britain independent. Britain always comes first. This is for Britain,” the prosecutor said.

Mair then placed his weapons inside a bag and calmly walked away, according to authorities.

A 77-year-old man, named in court as Bernard Carter-Kenny, also was stabbed in the abdomen when he tried to intervene. He is listed in stable condition at a local hospital.

The prosecutor said that while doctors were frantically trying to save Cox’s life, Mair was tracked down less than a mile away, wearing a black baseball cap and carrying a black bag.


As officers approached him, the prosecutor said, Mair stood in the road with outstretched arms and said: “It’s me.”

Once arrested, Mair also told officers that he was a “political activist,” the court heard. Inside his bag, police found a single-barrel gun with one round still in the chamber, ammunition, a blood-stained knife and a bloodied mobile phone, authorities said.

Cox, a mother of two who was campaigning for Britain to remain in the European Union ahead of a June 23 referendum, died within an hour of the attack.

Mair’s lawyer, Keith Allen, said his client has not indicated what plea would be given in the case, and Deputy Chief Magistrate Emma Arbuthnot ordered him remanded into custody. She also suggested that Mair undergo a psychiatric evaluation at Belmarsh prison.


“Bearing in mind the name he has just given, he ought to be seen by a psychiatrist,” she said.

In the small town of Birstall, Cox’s family visited the scene where she was slain as well as a makeshift memorial to read messages, greet friends as well as strangers and thank the public for their support. Her sister, Kim Leadbeater, spoke on behalf of the family and said Jo was “perfect” and only ever wanted everyone to be happy.

“For now, our family is broken,” she said. “But we will mend over time. And we will never let Jo leave our lives. She will live on through all the good people in the world.”

Cox focused on the positive, she said.


“[Jo would] talk about the silent majority who didn’t always shout the loudest, but who she knew were in her corner,” the sister said. “Over the past 48 hours, people have not been silent. They have been vocal and passionate and have spoken from the heart with genuine emotion and no hidden agendas. Jo would have loved it.

“We have to continue this strength and solidarity in the days, months and years to come as part of Jo’s legacy,” she said. “And focus on, as Jo would say, that which unites us and not which divides us.”

Cox’s death brought political campaigning in the European Union referendum to a virtual standstill.

Both sides in the debate immediately canceled events as a mark of respect, and questions are being asked about the vitriolic tone of the campaign, which has stirred up anti-immigrant and xenophobic feelings among some sections of the electorate.


A search of Mair’s home found newspaper articles about Cox as well as material from right-wing extremist and white supremacist groups, authorities said.

Vigils have taken place across Britain, and heartfelt tributes have poured in from friends and colleagues across the political spectrum, who describe Cox as one of the Labor Party’s rising stars.

Cox had been a member of Parliament for little more than a year and was a campaigner with aid organizations, including Oxfam, before entering politics. She recently had spoken up for the plight of refugees, especially Syrian children, and a fund to raise money for the causes closest to her heart already has amassed more than $700,000.

President Obama phoned Cox’s husband, Brendan, to offer his personal condolences. Shortly after her slaying, Brendan Cox released a statement saying his wife would have wanted two things to happen now.


“One, that our precious children are bathed in love, and two, that we all unite to fight against the hatred that killed her. Hate doesn’t have a creed, race or religion; it is poisonous.”

On Saturday, he tweeted: “Very proud of my sister in law Kim who spoke on behalf of us all and did her sister proud #MoreInCommon


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Boyle is a special correspondent.



12:45 p.m.: This article has been updated with additional information, including comments by Cox’s family.

6:14 a.m.: This article has been updated with additional details and background.

This article was originally published at 3:34 a.m.